AFC has a long history of working with Open Source Software (OSS) right back to the days when the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) User Group (DECUS) distributed software on tape.
Our current preference for a desktop operating systeme is ArchLinux. It is a rolling distribution whose goal is to offer the most current, stable version of an application at all times. Consequently there are no periods of migration from one release to the next; instead, application software is updated as its authors provide new versions.
This means of course that there are times when we have to get our hands dirty poking around at the innards of the OS to adapt to new change required by an update. Fortunately this does not happen very often now as software development techniques have evolved to support rolling updates better. Even major version updates to the Linux kernel rarely require intervention during deployment.
Our preferred server platform are current releases of OpenSuSE. Not even openSuSE’s own rolling distribution Tumbleweed nor indeed ArchLinux.
While rolling updates are fine for interactive desktops, on server deployments often custom applications are tightly bound to specific versions of platforms or frameworks and rolling updates can pose a problem. For example, if an update to an framework occurs, it can often break other systems which depend upon it. This can mean that services suddenly stop working requiring considerable effort to resolve issues.
Platform updates therefore tend to be more circumspect on servers with properly planned migration steps to minimise downtime.
We have been using Linux since before Linus Torvald’s baby had even reached version 1. As a consequence we have used almost all possible distributions and indeed clients can and do insist on specific flavours for their own servers. Some of the distributions we have worked with include:
- Red Hat, Fedora, Centos, Scientific Linux and AWS: a generic type of deployment lead by RedHat
- Debian & Ubuntu: a pair of distributions popular with experimenters
- Caldera: an old rpm based distribution for whom we were resellers in Ireland for a time
- Slackware & Yggrasil: early distributions from when everything could fit on to a single CD though they continue to be available and much bigger
- Cygwin: a distribution available for deployment on Window boxes
- BSD: the basis for Apple OS
- SLES, OpenSuSE and Tumbleweed
In the past we have used different distributions on both Desktops and Servers but more recently Servers have dominated.
Page created on Sun 07 Feb 2021
by Andy Ferguson